Ways to maim people, Hussar-style!: The Horseman’s Pick

Well, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Welcome to my new series which will detail the many and varied ways Hussars took care of problems(read:people) on the battlefield! I enjoyed writing about the flamberge so much, I’ve decided to do a whole set on the topic. Anywho…

The Horseman’s Pick was a special variant of the classic warhammer, a weapon popular in its own right in the Gothic era, where even the lowliest of professional soldiers was apt to have at least a coat of plates(a cloth jacket with metal plates riveted inside) to protect them. Everyone had armor, and swords were no longer an effective means of killing a man, its slashes and hacks ineffective against the masterfully fluted and creased plate armor appearing on the battlefield. The horseman’s pick was designed specifically to defeat this armor.

The basic horseman’s pick is a shaft(wooden or metal) with a metal hammerhead and a metal spike running the opposite side. The hammerhead could inflict massive blunt trauma to a man, even through the thickest of armor. As any football player can tell you, the pads and what not will not protect you from a concussion and that is exactly what the hammer side did to someone. Woe to the man who found himself without armor in the face of this weapon(think carpenters hammer to watermelon and you begin to get the idea!)

The spike side was the truly nasty end of the weapon, though, as it was fully capable of piercing even the strongest of plate armor, burying it’s point deep inside of the target’s body. This penetration was the weapons best quality and its worst, as often times the spike would get stuck in the victim’s body, rendering the weapon useless. The spike also did not normally kill a man outright; although massive bleeding and internal punctures were bound to happen, there simply was not enough trauma from the spike to kill a man unless a critical organ (brain, heart) was struck.

Having recreated this weapon in rattan, I’ve had the pleasure of using it against other people and I have some observations to make. The pick is very unwieldly in a close combat situation, quite unlike its warhammer brethren, which are fast, light, and brutal. I repeatedly found myself telegraphing my moves to my opponents(partially my own fault) because of the weight centered around the head. However, if you can land a shot, the effect is absolutely devastating. Even in padded rattan, the mass of the weapon does its job and knocks the target absolutely silly. This heaviness in its blows can be used to tire out an opponent who has suddenly found themselves really NOT wanting to get hit with the weapon. One might say it inspires fear in your opponent, which, to a certain type of fighter, is true.

That’s it for today, folks, come back next time, where I will review another of the fine weapons of the Hussar!

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Oh look! Medieval stuff!

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